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California Senate Approves Controversial School Vaccine Bill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - State senators have passed a controversial bill aimed at increasing California's school immunization rates.

The bill approved Thursday would prohibit parents from seeking vaccine exemptions for their children because of religious or personal beliefs.

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SB277 by Democratic senators Ben Allen of Santa Monica and Richard Pan of Sacramento would make medical waivers available only for children who have health problems, forcing unvaccinated children to be homeschooled.

California would join Mississippi and West Virginia as the only states with such strict requirements if the bill becomes law.

Red-shirted opponents, some with fussy children, crowded the public gallery to watch the nearly hour-long Senate debate.

Senators approved the measure on a 25-10 vote, sending it to the Assembly. Gov. Jerry Brown has not taken a position on the bill.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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